We can not allow people to be sexist, but there has to be a solution that allows men to participate.
We need men who acknowledge that sexism does exist and that by being complacent to it, they are supporting it, much the same as racism, homophobia, or other forms of oppression.
Oppressed people – whether through racism or sexism – don’t have the ability to say, “Just feel the love and stop using labels.”
The antidote is not kicking them out.
- We need strong male leadership in these discussions
- We need to listen to women explaining their lived experiences vis a vis sexism
- We need vocabulary and ground rules
We never want anyone to feel like they can’t participate or speak up. We want people to learn. However, sexist comments need to be checked. The problem is the manlash that transpires after being challenged about a sexist comment. Voices raise, people talk over each other, mansplaining manifests everywhere.
Ways to deal with the communication:
- Simply explaining and working with the concept of mansplaining
- Discussing the history of patriarchy, sexism, and feminism
- Discussing the concept of purity and rape culture
- Discussing ambivalent sexism (hostile and benevolent)
Allies have to learn how to be uncomfortable. The discomfort of being told how to be a better ally pales in comparison to actually being oppressed.
Men, who are well-intended, but blind to their privilege and subject to the very patriarchal upbringing we are trying to dismantle, don’t see how sexism and misogyny are connected to the disposability of men…or to their mental health.
Most men who talk about sexism are already feeling uncomfortable just by having the discussion, no matter how advanced they feel their understanding is. That could be why we see the intense reactions and emotive backlash, because these men are already feeling vulnerable. There is a balance that can be found here, where we are pushing their comfort zones, while speaking truth to power…it does not have to be either/or.
There has been ground gained in women’s rights, but we are far from stopping sexism. Trying to deny or “water down” the fact that sexism exits will not move us forward.
We can allow for ingenuous discussions, but we do not have to tolerate deflection. Deflection takes the discussion from the real point. It is like ignoring a problem instead of trying to solve it.
We are here to try to solve sexism by stopping it, are you with us?
The #StopSexism Social Interest Group aims to address the issues of everyday sexism, identify contributing factors, and discuss the implications and effects of sexism. We will hold weekly calls by phone, and together will explore ideas to combat inequality, gender bias, and society’s expectations.
The weekly conference calls will be avenue for deeper conversation and for coming up with innovative plans to counter sexism on the ground at the grassroots level. Weekly conference calls begin Monday, April 24 at 7:30 EST.
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